What's the future of the Block?


Aaron Benedek, Sydney

Around 60 people attended a "What's the Future of the Block?" forum organised by the student union at Sydney University on August 29. The forum was addressed by Peter Valilis from the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) and Geoff Turnbull, a Redfern resident and member of the local community group REDWatch.

The meeting discussed the AHC's development plan for the Redfern Block, called the "Pemulwuy project". The plan seeks to replace government funding with "self-funding", through increased home ownership on the Block, the opening of a business school and business retail centre, and joint venture projects between the private sector and the AHC.

The NSW government is expected to release a final draft of its plan for the redevelopment of the Redfern-Waterloo area this week, which is likely to include building controls that will prevent the Pemulwuy project from going ahead.

The Labor state government and the AHC have been in dispute since 2004, when the government demanded the AHC cede control of the Block in exchange for development funding. According to Valilis, state planning minister Frank Sartor has already said he wants no Aboriginal housing on the Block.